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JU










THE STORY OF SARAH



The STORY
of SARAH



BY

M. LOUISE FORSSLUND

(M. LOUISE FOSTER)




B RENTANO'S

U N I O N S ^U A R E
M. C M.



Publishers
N E W YORK

fcf I.



COPYRIGHT, 1901, BY
BKENTANO'S

All rights reserved



Press of J. J. Little & Co.
Astor Place, New York



" To you who have believed in me."



212S992



Contents



CHAPTER PAOB

I. VONSTRADAM THE LITTLE HOLLAND ... 3

II. "FADHER'S" FAMILY 11

III. THE MONEYLENDER'S EARS 29

IV. SARAH JARVIS 41

V. BEN AND SADIE 48

VI. CROSS PURPOSES 57

VII. AN OLD MAN 68

VIII. AT BRUMLEY HALL 74

IX. A FLIRTATION 92

X. THE WOMAN AT THE BRIDGE 107

XI. REVEREND DAN 112

XII. CONCERNING A Kiss . . . . . . 119

XIII. BEN'S SADIE . . .'.''. ... 124

XIV. THE NIGHT . . . . / 'i, . . . 128
XV. AT DAYBREAK . . .' . '. .-'' . 135

XVI. SUNDAY MORNING IN SHOREVILLE . '.. ' . .: ; 140

XVII. THE SAIL V 15

XVIII. WAITING 161

XIX. THE FINAL TEST 170

XX. A LIAR'S TONGUE .179

XXI. THE MONEYLENDER TAKES A CAT-NAP . . . 190

XXII. SHOOT! 195

vii



Contents



CHAPTER PACK

XXIII. SLIGHTLY SUSPICIOUS 200

XXIV. THE SHIPWEECK 206

XXV. IN THE MESSROOM 223

XXVI. THE SUBSTITUTE 229

XXVII. THE BLEAK HILL CREW 237

XXVIII. In DOLLY'S SEWING-ROOM 246

XXIX. THE HECTOR REPEATS THE GOSSIP OF SHORE-

VILLE 256

XXX. CAPTAIN MAPES CALLS 264

XXXI. BILLY DOWNS'S PATROL 272

XXXII. THE LUNCHEON 281

XXXIII. THE BOY AND THE BOAT 292

XXXIV. BEN AND CAPTAIN MAPES . . . .297
XXXV. IN WHICH SADIE REMEMBERS .... 301

XXXVI. THE GARDEN FENCE 314

XXXVII. "BEHOLD, I AM IN PRISON AND CANNOT COME

FORTH" 829

XXXVIII. ONE OF " BRUMLEY'S TRAMPS " ... 340

XXXIX. " JUST BEN" 348

XL. A GLOOMY OUTLOOK 856

XLI. ON THE OYSTER BED 366

XLII. THE MOTHER OP DEVINE 379

XLIII. THE SERMON 392

XLIV. " WHEN THE DEVIL WAS SICK" (?) . .406

XLV. CAP'N LEM, MATCHMAKER .... 414

XL VI. A FAMILY PARTY , 429



viii



THE STORY OF SARAH



THE

STORY OF SARAH

CHAPTER I

VONSTRADAM THE LlTTLE HOLLAND

THE stretch of roadway between the brook that bounds
Shoreville on the east and the brook that bounds Shore-
ville on the west is not so long, nor has it so many
turns, that it should take you from one manner of
thought to another, from one mode of living to another,
through a village distinctly American to a hamlet that
seems to have been smuggled from some port in Hol-
land. Nor, when following this road, will you become
aware of any change until after you have passed the
little west brook, where it coaxes its way in babbling
curiosity from the quiet under low-bending, overhang-
ing boughs to the noise of the wide, unshaded thorough-
fare, and then, frightened by its own boldness, purls
off to the protection of the woods again, but gets caught
in a maze of bushy meadows and dodges hither and
thither in the very capriciousness of timidity.

Here, at the brook, if you are a child that knows the
way, you will be apt to pause, and, seeking the two
middle boards of the unpretentious bridge, spread your
small legs apart, and declare with the manner of one
who encompasses the universe:

3



The Story of Sarah

" Here I stand in two places at once Shore ville and
Vonstradam! "

Then, if you (the child upon the bridge) are an Amer-
ican boy, you will point your scornful, stubby little
finger up the brave little hill that marks the entrance
to Vonstradam, and which would never be called a hill
anywhere else save in the equally flat country of Hol-
land, and you will sneer, as well as a little boy can sneer:

" That's Dutchtownl " And tauntingly call:

"Dutchy! Dutchy! Dutchy ! ! " after the square
little boys stolidly trudging home from school up the
hill. " Hy, Dutchy! Don't forget to ask your mother
for a piece of bread-an'-lard-an'-mer-?ass-es when you
get home! "

It makes no difference if you are secretly afraid that
the after-school void in your own stomach may never
be completely filled: no difference in worldly circum-
stances will ever make up in your mind for the difference
in birth will make you jeer less contemptuously at the
members of a community whose favorite butter is lard,
and sugar, molasses.

But your little Dutch schoolfellows are as exclusive
in their way as you are in yours, and at the top of the
hill, they will dance a sober little dance of derision
and delight, inform you Shoreville lads that you "can't
lick them"; then face about again, and with their
dinner pails (Dutch boys always carry dinner pails)
swinging from their hard young fists, disappear under
the row of willows that lines the walk.

On, under the willows they will go, past the general
store and post-office, then, glancing neither to right nor
left, cross the main street and enter a narrow lane.
Here, there is a thicket of willows that bends first one

4



V o n s t r a da m



way and then another until suddenly it breaks off to
leave you (if you have followed the Dutch boys) on the
borders of a transplanted Holland.

Across the road, which is path and road in one, as
well as the children's playground, wide fields of grass
slope down to wooded meadows the meadows of the
brook and out of the distance a half-dozen roofs of
Shoreville are peeping, seeming like the housetops of
another, far-off country.

There is an air of modest independence, of sedate
freshness, of scrupulous cleanliness, of thrift, of just-so-
ness here that is lacking in Shoreville. The lane is so
winding that you can see a long way down the row of
houses on your side of the road and as far as the row
that usurps the fields of the other side ; and every house,
nay, every building, even to the cow shed looks as if
it had been painted but yesterday in its own decided
color a Dutch blue with red trimmings and a red roof;
yellow, the shade of Wilhelmina's palace, with a crim-
son crown; white, with blue blinds and a red roof;
possibly pink and still the red top ; or red from peak
to foundation. Even the fact that the houses are
scrubbed on the outside once a week as faithfully as on
the inside once a day, can not fully account for the
glistening freshness of their coats. No. Paint is the
one luxury of the Vonstradam Dutchman; so highly
does he hold it in regard that the local expression for
thrift and prosperity has come to be, "keeping things
painted up"; and so openly does he declare this his
strong weakness, that the Shoreville storekeepers regu-
larly advertise in the Vonstradam column of the Shore-
ville Herald, "Bargains in Paint."

Extending way down the lane, continued from door-
5



The Story of Sarah

yard to door-yard, there is a thick, wide, close-cropped
hedge, which is broken twice regularly in front of each
place once by a small wooden picket gate and once
by a large wooden picket gate, painted to match the
house beyond, and with never a picket or the smallest
part of a picket or even a nail missing. The garden
paths on the other side are swept as often as a leaf or
twig falls upon them; the gardens hoed as often as a
regard for their welfare permits; and the wood-piles, of
which you catch occasional glimpses, have geometrical
proportions, which in some mysterious manner they
always maintain.

Of trees there are many, but all are chosen after
careful consideration of their fruit-bearing possibilities;
and all are stunted, gnarled, wide-spreading, as if pressed
down into the sandy soil by the weight of our winter
storms. Grape arbors, yielding both shade and fruit,
besides the product known as home-made wine, are seen
in every yard, no matter how small the yard, and many
yards have two or three wide arbors. Flag poles seem to
grow in extravagant, if patriotic, profusion out of the
corners of the gardens, but a closer inspection of these
over the hedges will show that they are the discarded
masts of boats.

By this time you have come to the new line of hedges
and houses on the other side of the street and a
break in the line on your side, where one building opens
with direct hospitality on the sidewalk. This is the
church white, low and square, similar in shape to one
of the old Dutch dames, with its open, lace- work steeple
looking like a quaint and ancient headdress. In this
steeple there rests a bell which never rests on Sundays;
and three times on the Sabbath day, you may see a

6



V o n s tr a da m



straggling line of black-bonneted old women and rough-
bearded old men enter the one wide door under the
steeple of this little Holland church. Only old men and
old women, because the young ones faithlessly worship
in Shoreville, where the congregation does less chanting
and the preacher is not one of the congregation.

If you go on down the lane from the church, peering
over the green hedges and the picket gates at straight-
cut, shrub-bordered paths; at innumerable flower boxes;
at radiant flower beds or the ghosts of radiant flower
beds; at window gardens blooming most brightly in the
dead of winter you will find that garden hedges, like
all other things, have an end.

By this time you will have passed and been courteously
greeted by girls at work in the yards, women cleaning
shutters and clapboards, and many sturdy young chil-
dren at play in the road; and now it may occur to you
to question those stolid youngsters that are piloting their
sloops through the dangerous channel of a mud puddle.
They will tell you (if you prove yourself a man of pa-
tience and enough of a lawyer to have a taste for cross
examination) that:

"Nobody in Vonstradam farms; nobody works in
stores; nobody preaches or lies; everybody goes oyster-
ing in the oyster season, and out of it, everybody
clams."

This hardly gained piece of information may account
for that bit of true Holland scenery which now lies
before you the low, flat fields and meadows overlook-
ing the wide waters of the Bay and sweeping down to the
side of a canal -like creek; the low group of rude, red
buildings at the edge of the beach, with trees reaching over
the tops of their pointed roofs, mounds of bleached white

7



The Story of Sarah

shells rising high against their sides; and, to complete
this Dutch picture, the windmill that calmly surveys
the whole scene. Take that clearly marked, but crooked
path across the lot and you will find that the reed-bordered
canal is your old friend, the brook, making up for the
aimless wanderings of its earlier ways by a wondrous
activity toward the end of its course. For, if it is at the
close of the afternoon, you will find both banks of the
canal lined and double-lined with catboat after catboat
and sloop after sloop, so close together that you could not
get up or down the stream in a sharpie; and here the
way of the canal is so crooked and bent that the very
land has the appearance of being covered with a growth
of bare masts and naked rigging.

The canal is very deep and is always kept free and clear,
not depending, as the Shoreville harbors do, upon the
grudging, uncertain will of the Government, but pro-
tected and watched by the water-wise Dutchmen them-
selves, who have built breakwaters out in the Bay, after
the manner of the dykes that stand between Holland
and the sea breakwaters that will resist wind and
weather, destroying waves, and shifting sands, as long as
there is a Dutchman left in Vonstradam.

This passion for the sea is in every one of them, from
the highest to the lowest from the little child that sails
boats in his mother's washtub to the old man who dies
because life is not life when one is too old to go oyster-
ing and it is as natural to them as their frugality,
their uprightness, their sobriety. At home, they wrest
their country from the waters; and here, they struggle
on the water for their homes. At home, necessity
forces them to toil; here, first necessity, then ambition;
and always a love for toil.

8



Vo n s tr ada m



They are proud, these Dutch, and sufficient unto
themselves. They send their children to the Shoreville
school (until they are old enough to cull oysters) because
a separate school in Vonstradam would mean a longer
time at learning English and a higher school tax. But
the older people hold aloof : when the men wish to drink
something stronger than the product of their own vines,
they go to Shoreville, but they are not a thirsty race ;
when the women need calico for dresses, sun-bonnets,
handkerchiefs, or patchwork, they do not go to Shore-
ville. They send the young girls.

These girls are faithful to their own lads, and their own
lads are faithful to them as a rule; and woe to the mis-
taken young creature that transgresses ! " Live and
marry and die in Vonstradam," is the unwritten law of
the community. It is strange, then, that, clinging so
closely together, holding so sternly aloof from men of
other nations, as the majority of them do, any of them
should become Americanized; yet many are subject
to this transformation.

You notice it in the younger people never in the
older. They forget to use the mother tongue would for-
get it completely if the New Testament in Dutch were
not the favorite book in every house the whole length
of the lane ; they pretend ignorance of the shape of a
wooden shoe (after they have passed the spanking age);
they dress on Sundays alas for the Shoreville maids !
in super-Shoreville style, and saunter down to the larger
town for religious instruction and instruction that may
not be religious. You notice it in gradual changes of
sentiment: they fall in love not once, but twice,
three times! before they marry. It is a disgraceful
American custom : love and marriage used to be synony-

9



The Story of Sarah

mous terms in Vonstradam. And, worse than this,
they refuse to believe that woman was made for the
scrubbing-brush and to rock the cradle, and for naught
beside; and man for the oyster tongs to work, to
slave, to save and drudge, and nothing more.

Occasionally there is even greater rebellion than this
among them: a swain departs from the authorized
manner of wooing; scorns his parents' advice; passes
the trim Dutch maidens by with his eyes blinded by
love for a maid of another nation in short, follows his
wilful young heart to Shoreville. And of a verity he fol-
lows it; and, once following, is not likely to return;
for he would not think of bringing an American wife to
raise the dust of dissension in that quiet, orderly little
Holland hamlet.

He is a fool : let him suffer as a fool so say his wise
and solemn judges.



10



c c Fa h d e r ' / " Fa m i ly



CHAPTER II
"FAHDER'S" FAMILY

THERE is, next door to the little white church with
green shutters, a little white house with red shutters
which differs in no marked way from its neighbors,
having the same indispensable garden with its flower
beds and flower boxes, its flagpole and its wide grape
arbor; yet to one that knows the place, it does differ in
a very great measure. Look again, this time a little
more closely, and you will see wonder of wonders! that
the neat paint is peeling off the boards in places, that
the flag pole is decaying where it stands, that the snow-
ball shrubs on either side of the blue front door with the
pink panels are as high as the peaked roof of the little
porch, that the grape vines are thick, heavy, and much
twisted and gnarled. Now, having observed all these
marks of old age, you will readily believe that this is the
parent house, the mother grape arbor, the first flag pole,
the original of all these trim gardens; for you are
standing before the home of " Fahder," as old Bernard t
Benstra is lovingly called throughout, and even beyond,
the hamlet of Benstra or Vonstradam.

Old Mr. Benstra was the first to place a wooden-shod
foot in Shoreville ; and that was long, long years ago,
when he was young and his wrinkled little wife was
young and oh, so pretty ! and when none of their ten
children had been born to them. Now, the youngest of

11



The Story of Sarah

those children, " Baby Bernard t," stood over six feet in
his stockings and voted for the first time at the last presi-
dential election. Now, the old man's back had stiffened
over the oyster tongs so that he could no longer do com-
bat with the sea. An American would have taken to
the chimney corner, but that is not the way with the
Dutch; literally, they either do or die, and old Bernardt
Benstra felt far too young to die.

Instead, he made a demand that West Shoreville have
a Post Office, and when that request was about to be
granted, applied for the position of mail-carrier between
the new Post Office and the Shoreville railroad station ;
thus, in true Dutch style, benefiting himself while doing
good to his neighbors. So it came about that, instead of
bending over the oyster tongs, and handling the tiller,
he straightened his broad shoulders, slung a mail bag
over them by means of a stout stick and twice tramped
three miles a day to and from Shoreville.

On that route, he saw the whole world and met men
of all minds; he grew broader in his views, although
no less rigid in his morals; he learned to tolerate the
follies of the world and to pity the frailties. He had
time to think and time to observe and to compare: in a
very short while he came to the conclusion that as all
men are not so fortunate as to be born Dutchmen, they
should not be judged as Dutchmen.

You might have seen him any day at certain hours
marching along the road, smiling, courteous ever a
gentleman despite the patched patches on the broad
knees of his trousers. He would talk to you on any sub-
ject, and, moreover, listen while you talked on any: the
modesty with which he stated his own views was pleas-
ing; the deference with which he heard yours was

12



"Fahder's" Family

charming. But if you talked to him, you had to walk
with him; he would no more loiter by the way than
he would steal a stamp or read a postal ; he would not
have failed to meet his train for the little Wilhelmina
herself, and, at the other end of the route, there waited
another and an older queen.

Straight from the station to the Post Office he would
go, and from the Post Office to the little white house with
red shutters; enter at the kitchen door, and tell all that
he had seen and heard to the wrinkled old lady, who
smiled and nodded and kept her strong opinions safe in
her strong bosom. She had long ago learned many
things that Fahder was learning but now ; for, before age
caught up to her, she, too, had gone out in the world
even as far as Shoreville, where little children had
looked upon her as little children look upon storks
in her own country, and where she is still tenderly re-
membered by many gentle mothers as the " Little Lady-
nurse."

On American soil, this worthy Dutch couple had raised
nine worthy Dutch sons, all of whom, at the prescribed
age, had married good useful wives of Dutch origin
and, later on, had given the old people a wondrously
large number of grandchildren. But, alas that so hon-
orable a tale cannot be told of the tenth son, Ben Ben-
stra ! For what did this lad do but join that ever-in-
creasing number of witless ones who woo in Shoreville!

Had he been a fool from his birth, his unhappy
mother could have endured this folly; but even in the
cradle he had been sober and wise and big and brave to
all appearances, a thorough Dutchman. He did not
fail to show at the proper age that proper mania for the
water and even for soap and water; he was quietly, mar-

13



The Story of Sarah

vellously obedient and sweet tempered from the time
he uttered his first laugh (nobody ever heard his first
cry, except his mother) ; he proved his strength and
courage by beating, single-fisted, a rooster with canni-
balistic designs on a chicken bone that Ben was gnawing,
when Ben was no bigger than that big rooster himself.

So, you see, Ben bid fair to grow up into a proper
Dutchman; but, as old Mrs. Benstra told her husband,
"You can't tell nothing about children until they
are men."

Little did either of the old people know, or would they
have believed, at how early an age Ben's disloyalty to his
own began just after he had doffed his mother's cut-down
dresses to don his father's cut-over breeches and was sent
for the first time to Shoreville school. There he learned,
before ever he had time to learn the alphabet, that pulling
two particular braids of bright gold hair tied with blue rib-
bons would produce a squeal not a prosaic, resentful
Dutch squeal, but an American squeal humorous, soft,
laughing, delicious! Now Ben had a musical ear and
innate good taste; therefore, he kept on pulling that
American hair tied with blue ribbons and neglected to
touch those inharmonious Dutch locks interbraided with
pink string. And this was the first of the disloyalty :
traitorous actions that have undermined nations have
had beginnings as small. v

Years afterward, when the meeting place was in a
Shoreville church, instead of the Shoreville school, Ben
had not gained wisdom in the managing of maidens and
neither had he lost his admiration for a certain head of
hair, although that hair had changed and deepened in
color, being no longer a decided gold, but somewhat
brown and somewhat red in fact, no mere Dutch-

14



cc Fahd er '/ " Fa mi ly

man could be expected to name its tint. Now Ben
glanced askance at it, laughed to show he had no real
affection for it, and slyly teased those girls that had once
twined pink string through their larded braid. But
that marvellous American hair, aided by a pair of eyes
that might have drawn a man anywhere, drew Ben to
Shoreville; and the soul shining fearlessly through the
eyes, held Ben's heart in Shoreville.

Presently it became known in the Little Holland
that Ben had no wish to choose a round-faced, strong-
stemmed flower from this neat and tidy garden of girls
nothing but a useless Shoreville rose, pretty leaves,
thorny branches, would suit him. How they found it
out Ben could not tell, for he had certainly tried his
best to hide it; but known it was, and a consequent
contempt due to, and received by, Ben Benstra not that
he cared; the stolid Dutchman never cares for anything
once he is sure that he is right. So he was able to turn
a distant Dutch ear to the offensive Dutch taunts, and,
being too honest to deny the accusations, too prudent to
affirm them, joked modestly, laughed bashfully, and
continued to go to church in Shoreville.

Then came a shock that roused the little community,
turning all of its sympathies back to Ben ; for the Amer-
ican rose (it was said) had scorned to be plucked by the
hard and honest Dutch hand and had chosen, instead,
an American hand a hand quite as hard and not so
honest, neither pure nor sweet nor clean foolish little
rose ! Now it was that the lad refused to hear the
taunts; now it was that he came from behind his screen of
laughter and jokes, speaking openly, bravely, and nobly:

Every rose has the right to choose upon whose breast
it shall be worn. This was the un-Dutchlike sentiment

15



that Ben, the youngest son of Fahder, expressed to the
consternation of every unmarried man in Vonstradam.
Then Ben settled quietly down to his old ways teased
the same as ever, laughed almost the same, and, bound
by a custom of both villages as well as by his own sense
of honor, no longer looked on the rose or went within the
spell of its fragrance. But even when the rose had been
transplanted to other soil, Ben kept away from Shore-
vine the garden of many memories and one lost rose.

At this time, old Bernardt Benstra showed some pa-
tience with Ben, but the little wife showed none ; in her
mind the folly of wooing in Shoreville might be forgiven,
but the disgrace of not winning could not be endured.

Why did Ben, in courting this Shoreville maiden,
depart from the straightforward customs of Vonstradam ?
How, unless he told her so, was she to know he wished
to marry her ? What was the reason that he had not
taken her for those three Sunday afternoon walks that
the lovers of Vonstradam take, with the breadth of the
walk between them the first Sunday, and unbroken
silence; hand in hand the next Sunday, and unbroken
silence ; arm in arm the third and last Sunday, and with
the silence unbroken save for the words,

" Will you be my bride ? " from his lips; and " Yes "
from hers. If this foolish American girl had said,
"No," then Ben could have consoled himself with the
thought that he had done his best.

The poor, backward lad had covered the wound in his
honest, tender heart for two long months so success-
fully that none but the sympathetic father and the
knowing mother could be sure that it was there, when



Online LibraryMary Louise FosterThe story of Sarah → online text (page 1 of 27)